POCAHONTAS: The Life and the Legend by Frances Mossiker

POCAHONTAS: The Life and the Legend

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The story of Pocahontas has endured the enlargement of legend and the distortions of time; here she emerges as singular heroine, the pampered favorite child of an unusually powerful chief, a woman of uncommon curiosity, valor, intelligence, and a decidedly unPuritanical sensuality. Mossiker explores all possible theories about the few facts known, always distinguishing the evidence available in primary sources from what is insupportable and from her own well-researched, sometimes ingenious suppositions. She contends that Pocahontas was a willing captive of Captain Argall and voluntary convert to Christianity; certainly as Lady Rebecca she enjoyed her trip to England and the attention she received there. Necessarily this is also the story of the struggling settlement in Jamestown, that holy and commercial venture of the Royal Virginia Company; the affecting confusions of Indians faced with prophesied invaders; the odd career and mysterious motivations of John Smith; and the Puritanical outlook and enterprising agricultural achievements of John Rolfe. Pocahontas in literature is examined, especially the assorted drivel of the 19th century, which makes this much more ambitious in its coverage than either Woodward's Pocahontas (1970) or Barbour's Pocahontas in Her Worm (1970). Unlike them Mossiker concentrates on character--a feat considering the scarcity of material--so the reader can appreciate the personal significance of each episode. An admiring, speculative portrait making extensive use of contemporary documents.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1976
ISBN: 0306806991
Publisher: Knopf